When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. ( 1 Cor 13:11)
There are multiple beliefs about the origin of Halloween. This article sets forth my reasonable and useful understanding of the origin of Halloween and how it should be viewed today.
Halloween means Hallowed Evening. Hallowed means holy or set apart (Exodus 20:11; Matthew 6:9).
Halloween is a part of a three day celebration said to have been started by the Roman Catholic Church: Halloween (October 31), All Saints Day (November 1), and All Souls Day (November 2) of each year. All Saints Day and All Souls Day are days for remembering Christians who have died. In essence, Halloween is a Christian Celebration that has been much too much secularized.
Some believe the early church during the time of Pope Gregory the First chose these days as reported by the Library of Congress to substitute Christian Holidays for pagan holidays that were already in place during the same period. According to some, the idea was to encourage converted persons to participate in the Christian Celebrations instead of the pagan Celebration called Samhains. Of course, sinful humans then as well as now probably continued to incorporate pagan activities and symbols into the Christian Celebrations and/or continued to participate in the pagan celebration.
Halloween gets its name from the hallowed celebration intended to be held in the evening of October 31st.
Problems occur when the manner of such celebrations involves activities that are inconsistent with biblical holiness (hallowed). Problems also occur when the secular world had or have celebrations at the same time as Christian celebrations. Problems further occur when Christians incorporate secular activities that are inconsistent with biblical admonitions. For example, dressing up as a witch or demon and presenting oneself at someone’s door for candy gives honor to the concept of a witch and a demon respectively. But the Bible clearly says witches and demons are evil; therefore, Christians should not participate in any specific activity that honors them. So then if one does participate in Halloween using a costume then the costume should not reflect anything that is evil. This principle of course extends to other activities.
It is clear that in America, Halloween has become extensively commercialized. Also, humans for whatever reason have come to incorporate a great deal of clearly unbiblical activity. Some churches have chosen to do nothing on these days. Others hold special worship services and/or fall festivals/carnivals as alternatives to secular Halloween activities during this time. The idea is to counter the influence of secular Halloween activities on adults and especially children. It then becomes the responsibility of the faithful courageous Christian family to come and bring their children to the church Halloween (Hallowed/Holy Evening) rather than participate in secular Halloween activities.
So then should Christians avoid Halloween celebration because humans have corrupted the idea of such a celebration? Well, should Christians avoid celebrating Christmas because humans have in some cases commercialized it and in some cases employ unbiblical activities and symbols? Of course not; Christians should still celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ which is what Christmas is all about. We as Christians certainly should not give the non-Christians power to determine our celebrations.
At home, the head of household is to determine whether a celebration occurs and the manner of that celebration. At church, the head of the local church and/or its “board” or “leadership council” according to the church’s standard procedure is to determine whether a celebration occurs and the manner of that celebration. Likewise, at school, the head of the school and/or school board is to determine whether a celebration occurs and the manner of the celebration. In all cases, participants in any such celebrations are to ensure all activities are consistent with biblical principles. Of course, the head of the church and the church in general are to preach and teach the whole counsel of God so all will know what is consistent with biblical principles at home, at church, at school, and in society in general.
We as Christians should always be mindful that the Bible exhorts us to not be of the world though we be in the world (John 17:14-15; 1 John 2:15-17,21).
For more info on All Saints and All Souls Days see my article entitled All Saints and All Souls Days.